Exploring the Pocosin Lakes NWR
Man did we just scratch the surface of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Here's the deal. We always stop in the town of Columbia, NC - it's one of our favorite small towns around these parts. We sort of stumbled upon the NWR visitor's center here in town - I don't know how we've missed it in past trips to the Outer Banks - but luckily we made it this time.
After checking out the park headquarters/visitor's center (located just off Hwy. 64 in town and on the river), we took a quick little hike along the Scuppernong River Interpretive Boardwalk. We passed fisherman, folks on a quick stroll like us, and found a sweet kayak launch.
The actual refuge stretches over 100,000 acres across 3 counties (Hyde, Tyrrell, & Washington). Well over 100,000 migratory water fowl concentrate here in the winter and the refuge is home to the only population of wild, free roaming red wolves in the world. It also is home to one of the densest populations of black bears in the world. Wowza!
Here's a link to a map with descriptions of great water fowl observation points (best in the winter). These points are accessed via dirt roads throughout the refuge (some may be closed during the winter or peak water fowl migration times). We'll definitely be back in the winter to check things out. If you visit during the fall hunting season use caution and wear your Clemson sweatshirt.
~Paul & Amber everyonestravelclub.com
P.S. - We'll do a post on our favorite little town of Columbia NC in the winter when we visit the refuge to see some serious bird migration action!
Crystal Coast Island Hopping
There is nothing we love more than putting in a kayak or two along the Crystal Coast and exploring barrier islands along the Intracoastal Waterway. Low tide and with-mutt is the best way to go. Today's blog post is a little photo journal of paddling around islands mostly near the seaside Eastern North Carolina town of Swansboro. Enjoy!
~Paul, Amber, & Eleanor everyonestravelclub.com
Our favorite boat launch near here
A great kayak rental place near here
As we keep adventuring around where we live, our exploration bubble keeps getting bigger. We've been to most hiking and paddling spots close to home so now we spread out a bit. That took us to Fort Fisher State Park and recreation area in Kure Beach, North Carolina.
The park consists of a historical center, short trails around bunkers and restored fence line, longer trails through a gorgeous salt marsh, a beautiful beach, a boat launch, and a (permit required) 4x4 all year round beach driving section. Here's a map of the park.
During the Civil War, Fort Fisher allowed the port of Wilmington to stay open to runners supplying goods to the confederacy upriver. This was an important, and one of the last, lifelines to Robert E. Lee (in Virginia at the time). It was cut off when the federalists attacked and took the fort in 1865. Once the fort was in the North's hands it was only a matter of time until the confederacy fell.
Can you spend a day here? For sure. A few things about our trip. We came from out of town which meant quite a drive through busy Wilmington and onto Carolina Beach (city traffic followed by tourist traffic). Once you get out to the Fort it's a great idea to bring a lunch and a cooler. Eating under the live oaks by the beach would be perfect. Even more perfect would be purchasing a daily 4x4 pass and taking to the beach via off-road vehicle (see the 4x4 beach entry pictures below). Other options include aquatic exploration from the boat launch, hiking the Basin Trail, or checking out the aquarium at the end of the island.
We loved it here. On our next trip we might look to stay a night close to the park to cut down on the Wilmington-traffic-driving, but what a picturesque beach and recreation area. Check it out!
~Paul & Amber everyonestravelclub.com
(Link to the official NC parks website for Fort Fisher)
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